Saturday, February 10, 2018

Flavor of the Month

I can’t remember which pen book author it was – probably Paul Erano – who cautioned against buying pens (or pencils) that were the “flavor of the month.”  A couple collectors take a sudden interest in a particular brand or model, and after they ask enough dealers at a show if they have any (or after a couple online bidding wars lead to some peculiar closing prices), it doesn’t take long before dealers at the shows are dusting off the examples they haven’t been able to sell for years, updating their price stickers and watching them fly off the tables.

Sometimes the sudden uptick in prices is the beginning of sustained interest, and those who speculated early or had a bunch of the latest hot commodity on hand will profit handsomely.  Just as often, though, the interest quickly burns out and it’s easy to find yourself kicking yourself in the pants for paying too much at the peak.  With luck, if you’re in the latter bunch you still are able to enjoy that run-of-the-mill Parker 51 you paid a couple hundred bucks for.

Recently a few of the younger Parker collectors have been scooping up a model that hasn’t attracted much collector interest, at least in the time I’ve been collecting (going on about 20 years now): the Parkette Deluxe.  Interest spread to these naturally from the attention drawn in recent years to Parker’s manufacturing of “rebadged” Parker products under department store names such as Diamond Medal, an admittedly fascinating sideline the company engaged in during the Depression.  Some Diamond Medals and others shared the fluted barrels found on the Parkette Deluxe, and next thing you know we’re all combing through our junk boxes trying to keep up with the requests for these things. 

The down side is you pay too much during these times, but on the upside, people think to get them out and more variations are available.  This is one I’ve been sort of trying to find for a number of years, and yes I paid more than I would have normally for it:


I say “sort of” because I wasn’t actively hunting for these, but I knew the green ringtop was out there because I had a cap for the pen (which ended up in Brian McQueen’s hands at DC this year, I think).  I like the color, and the ringtops you just don’t see:


This had me pulling out my other examples and organizing them.  From my limited assortment, there appear to be two types: those with a gold upper trim ring and a “PATO” clip patented by Harry Esterow (the “PATO” is actually “PATD,” as in covered by a design patent), and those which have a white upper band. 



Now that we’ve got a few guys out there actively chasing them, I imagine it won’t be long before we know whether the gold band versions also came in a larger size, and what other colors and configurations are available!

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